Improv your workout

asweatlife improv fitness improve your workout workout motivation

No that’s not a typo. I’m not telling you to improve your workout – not just yet anyway – I’m telling you to IMPROV your workout leading to greater workout motivation.

Here’s why: I went to a talk at a conference last spring given by two gentlemen from Improv Olympics that challenged a room full of suit-wearing marketers to use the tenants of improv when speaking to consumers. I’ve been a strict enforcer of the rule of “yes, and …” professionally for years, so these conference-crashers caught my attention.

I was furiously scribbling notes while they spoke because attempting to calm my own nerves before speaking on my own panel was just way too much. But exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t lose it in a room full of people.

They just don’t.

I stumbled upon these notes recently and as I read them, I felt a rush – suddenly everything could be improv-ed. The fact of the matter is that improv gives you rules to keep the scene going. Think of your life as a scene and fitness as a piece of that scene.

Let’s apply the rules, shall we?

1. Listen

This is just a generally great rule for having better relationships. Listening to the people who are talking to you in a professional setting rather than formulating your response while they speak will allow you to truly collaborate and get sh*t done. And, we’re here to get sh*t done. Am I right?

But when it comes to fitness, always remember that you don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. No one knows everything. When you’re taking a class, listen to your instructor to understand why you’re doing everything. You’ll be more connected to the workout. When you’re working out by yourself, listen to your body. Do you need a rest day? Take a rest day. Can you do 6 more reps without an issue? Increase your challenge. Don’t just march – listen and understand why.

2. Agree. (Also known as the rule of “yes, and … “)

By saying “yes, and …” in improv, you’re agreeing to support your partner(s) in a scene. Have you ever seen an improv actor say, “oooooh, I don’t really think you’re a three-year-old on a swing set. So … ” No – they start to play along with the three-year-old and suddenly they’re crazy Aunt Bertie.

Look at a challenge and say, “yes, I’ll try this and if I can’t get through the set, I’ll modify it.” We have ourselves a workout, ladies and gentlemen.

3. Make strong choices

In improv, this means not questioning your gut and going with what comes out of you naturally and creatively. This also means avoiding the temptation to dumb-it-down for the audience. Good improv actors bring everything they know to the stage, like references to a Civil War General or that crazy cat-eating alien, ALF. I’ve been waiting a long time to make an ALF reference.

Deciding that you can do anything – or at least try anything – that is thrown your way is a strong choice. Not coasting your way through your workout is another strong choice. If you feel like you can push harder, go get it.

4. Have Fun

Improv is fun because it is a safe place (barring stage fright) for actors to experiment, play and work together. There is an agreed upon set of rules that keep it that way. If it wasn’t a thrill to get up on stage and see what comes out of your mouth, no one would do it.

Fitness classes are a safe place for you to workout because you have a fitness instructor guiding you through effective exercises. All you have to do is try them, take each exercise at your own level and have fun while you do it.


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About Jeana Anderson Cohen

Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of a premiere wellness media destination that creates content and community to help womxn live better lives and achieve their goals. Before founding health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - and fresh out of college she worked on the '08 Obama campaign in Michigan. From there, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience in building community and her passion for wellness. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, trying to join a book club, and walking her dog Maverick.